Gear Guide for Duke of Edinburgh, Ten Tors and Hiking Challenges - Rucksacks

James's guide to Rucksacks for Duke of Edinburgh Awards, Ten Tors and the Exmoor Challenge.

Activities like DofE, Ten Tors and the Exmoor Challenge are great for young people in the South West as they teach them important skills like team building, leadership and navigation. It gets them outside and lets them enjoy the beauty of the British countryside. As well as this, it looks great on their CV and is an exciting adventure for them to experience with their friends.  It is unsurprising that these activities get more traction every year with more young explorers signing up to take part.

I have completed all of these events and have a good insight into what kit is on the market; so I have compiled a list of the core pieces of kit, which I believe are at a good price point and will keep the young explorer comfortable and dry.

This is part of a series of kit lists for outdoor expedition challenges. The other blog posts in this series are:

  • Guide to Footwear
  • Guide to Waterproofs
  • Guide to Sleeping bags


For your rucksack to be accepted it needs to be 60 to 70 litres in capacity, have a waist strap and have a waterproof cover. You are expected to have it fitted to you, and it should not weigh anymore than a third of your body weight. Because of this, I would recommend coming into store to have it professionally fitted. All of our stores have weights so we can give you an idea of what the bag will feel like while walking with weight. I would recommend going for a bag which has a separate compartment at the bottom of the bag where you can leave your sleeping bag, I have also found that hip pockets are really useful.

Osprey Rook / Renn 65

The Osprey Rook (men’s) and Renn (women’s) 65 are great value for money expedition packs. They have hip pockets, a separate storage area for your sleeping bag, a very strong outer fabric and come with a rain cover. I was really impressed with the Rook’s adjustable back system, as it is very easy and sturdy to adjust. The bags also have a large airflow cavity, which allows air to pass behind your back, keeping you cool. Although the pack misses out on some of the other Osprey features, the price reflects that and it provides excellent value.

Osprey Atmos / Aura AG 65

The Osprey Atmos (men’s) and Aura (women’s) utilises Ospreys Anti Gravity (AG) System. This aims to keep the weight of the bag central and passes it through your strongest point, your hips. It also increases ventilation and allows the hip belt to sit more comfortably.  As this is one of Osprey’s leading bag designs it has a number of premium features like extra storage space. It has an easy access front zipper pockets and a stretchy mesh pocket allow you to get to your gear quickly and easily. This pack still has features like an integrated rain cover and bottom storage pocket. The Atmos and the Aura have two different back length which results in a more precise and comfortable fit.

Aether AG 70 / Ariel AG 65

The Osprey Aether (men’s) and Ariel (women’s) are designed for carrying heavy loads over multiple days, because of this, they have a higher level of padding and structure to the back system. The Anti Gravity system is taken from the Osprey Atmos/Aura range and improved to keep the weight primarily on the hips. This leaves the packs slightly heavier than the other options on this list but are perfect for activities like the DofE Gold. They have all of the premium features that are expected with an Osprey pack like hip pockets and a built in rain cover but also has memory padding in the hip belt to further increase its comfort. Both the Aether and the Ariel come in two different back sizes – M/L and S/M.

Liners and waterproof covers

You will also need to have a waterproof bag liner and put your equipment inside dry bags inside your bag. I would recommend having different colour bags to help you identify what is in them, Osprey and Sea to Summit offer a good range of these. When you pack your bag make sure that you leave heavier items at the bottom as the bag will be designed for the weight to go through your hips, I would also advise that you keep items like waterproofs at the top so tat they are easy to get to.

James from our Taunton store has completed the Ten Tors Event multiple times, as well as the National Three Peaks Challenge and the Gold level in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. He is a keen walker, skier and runner and gets out as much as he can.

Head back to the Taunton Leisure blog

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